I try not to take for granted the vast number of cool events that happen in Los Angeles. I know that a screening of an almost 60 year-old Japanese movie doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that you can only find in L.A., but it is! The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is presenting a stunning new restoration of Akira Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon, taken from a 35mm print created in 1962 from the original camera negative.
The truth of the matter is that because the heart of the film industry is here in Los Angeles, so is the heart of film restoration efforts. Film restoration is extremely tedious and costly, and many of our film treasures are being lost at a rapid rate. Because are we lucky enough to be in a city where much of the restoration is done, occasionally beautifully restored films are publicly screened here!
In this case, we’ll get to see the groundbreaking Kurosawa masterpiece Rashomon, starring Toshiro Mifune in the role that catapulted him to stardom. The film depicts the rape of a woman and the apparent murder of her husband through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the rapist and the dead man (through a medium). The stories are mutually contradictory, leaving the viewer to determine which, if any, is the truth. Rashomon has become synonymous with the unknowability of truth, and spawned the term the “Rashomon Effect.” regarding the subjectivity of perception on recollection.
Regarding this particular restoration:
While the [35mm print from 1962] print itself was in good physical condition, the source material from which it was made was extremely battered. Due to the extensive printing and handling it had received over its lifetime, many shots were already starting to shrink and warp, and there were numerous scratches, dust, and dirt in the damaged negative. Scanned at 4k resolution, that 47-year-old print has been meticulously cleaned both digitally and by hand, complete with a new, seamless soundtrack. This essential restoration has been made possible by the Academy Film Archive, the National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kadokawa Pictures, Inc., with funding provided by Kadokawa Cultural Promotion Foundation and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation.
Rashomon opens Friday, October 2, 2009 at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre, showing through Thursday, October 8 for an exclusive one-week engagement. Showtimes: Fri-Sun at 12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30 & 10:00; Mon-Thu at 5:00, 7:30 & 10:00. Landmark’s Nuart Theatre is at 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway, in West Los Angeles. Program information: 310-281-8223; www.landmarktheatres.com